- LYTTON (EDWARD GEORGE EARLE LYTTON BULWER), First Baron
- (1803-1873)UK writer, known as Edward Bulwer until 1838, when he became Sir Edward Bulwer. He became Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1843 when he succeeded to the Knebworth estate on his mother's death. His name is often rendered as Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, or simply as Bulwer Lytton; the standard editions of his collected works give his name as Lord Lytton. He became Colonial Secretary in 1858-9 (he signed the documents creating British Columbia and Queensland), and was raised to the peerage as FirstBaron Lytton in 1866.As a writer, he was most significant for such fashionable and trendsetting novels as Pelham (1828), though he is best remembered for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834). He was versatile and prolific in several genres, and his collected works fill over 110 volumes. His powerful interest in the occult, or more specifically in doctrinesassociated with the Rosicrucians, surfaces throughout his work, becoming explicit in Zanoni (1842) and A Strange Story (1862; rev 1863), which feature ruminations on the proper route to the attainment of the elixir of life and on other occult themes. The Haunted and the Haunters, or The House and the Brain (1859 Blackwood's Magazine; 1905 chap) is a moreconvincing haunted-house tale which qualifies as marginal sf through its quasiscientific explanations in terms of mesmerism (animal magnetism). His sf novel is The Coming Race (1871; vt Vril: The Power of the Coming Race 1972 US), a UTOPIA set in an underground LOST WORLD inhabited by anevolved form of Homo sapiens, larger and wiser than surface dwellers. This race derives its moral and physical virtue from vril, an electromagnetic form of energy of universal utility which fuels flying machines and automata, and even makes telepathy possible. (The UK beef-tea Bovril took its name from vril.) Females of the Vril-ya are superior to men, a circumstance which shapes the book's thin plot. A human visitor from the surface is condemned to death for eugenic reasons but two women fancy him, taking the initiative as is normal for Vril-ya; with the aid of one of them he escapes to tell his tale. He understands little of his superiors' lives, however, and masters nothing of their arts and sciences. Soon, it is clear, the world above will be visited in turn and Homo sapiens will be exterminated. Lytton's lack of horror at science, and the professionalism of his text, help explain the extremely wide influence of The Coming Race, which is one of the seminal sf texts before the age of H.G. WELLS.JCOther works: Asmodeus at Large (1833); Godolphin (1833); The Pilgrims of the Rhine (coll 1834), which contains "The Fallen Star", perhaps the first story to consider primitive Man from an ethnographic point of view; The Student (coll 1835).About the author: Strange Stories, and OtherExplorations in Victorian Fiction (1971) by Robert Lee Wolff; Gothic Immortals: The Fiction of the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross (1990) by Marie Roberts.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.